June 03, 2011
Surabaya. As part of its policy to gradually close down the infamous Dolly red-light district, the Surabaya administration announced on Wednesday that it would no longer allow it to operate 24 hours a day.
Dwi Purnomo, the head of Sawahan subdistrict, where the brothel area is located, said its operating hours would be restricted to between 9 a.m. and 1 a.m.
“This is a plan we’d been mulling for the past year, but on June 1 we sent out the official notice to pimps in the area,” he said. He added that the pimps were the ones who proposed the idea as well as the punishment for those violating the opening hours.
“The punishment to be meted out will be decided and agreed upon by the pimps themselves,” Dwi said. “It can be anything from a three-day closure of the offending brothel to shutting it down completely.”
Christine, a sex worker at one of the brothels, said the restriction on the opening hours would not affect business much.
“As things are, right now we’re up until 1 a.m. and sleeping until 9 in the morning,” she said. “So nothing will change.”
Another policy being introduced to scale back what is reputed to be Southeast Asia’s biggest red-light district is a prohibition on the hiring of new sex workers.
“We’ll close any brothel found to be hiring new sex workers,” Dwi said.
He explained the prohibition was meant to ensure the number of sex workers at Dolly would gradually decline, eventually leading to the demise of the sex trade in the area.
There are currently 1,123 sex workers aged 23 to 35 employed at 336 brothels in the red-light district, according to official data. In 2006, there were around 3,000 sex workers there.
Dwi said the large drop in the number of sex workers during the past five years was because many had either returned to their hometowns to get married and start a family or had grown too old for the sex trade.
“The older they get, the harder it is for them to turn tricks, so they decide to get out of the trade,” he said. He added that if the trend continued, Dolly could be down to around 750 sex workers by next year.
“If we can achieve that target in 2012, then it’s very likely that we’ll achieve our overall aim of shutting down Dolly in another two years,” he said.
Dolly, which began life during the Dutch colonial era, is believed to serve around 700 men daily. An estimated 80 percent of residents who live in its vicinity depend on the high visitor numbers for their income.
The Surabaya administration has been reluctant to shut it down immediately because of the economic impact. Instead, it has opted for a series of policies to phase it out gradually
(also x the JG)